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Discussion: Legal and Ethical Conduct
As emphasized in this weekâ€™s media presentation, all nurses need to be familiar with the laws and regulations that govern their practice: their stateâ€™s Nurse Practice Act, ANAâ€™s Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, specialty group standards of practice, etc. In addition, basic ethical principles guide nursesâ€™ decision-making process every day. ANAâ€™s Code of Ethics and ANAâ€™s Social Policy Statement are two important documents that outline nursesâ€™ ethical responsibilities to their patients, themselves, and their profession. This said, there is a dilemma: The laws are not always compatible with the ethical positions nurses sometimes take. This weekâ€™s Discussion focuses on such a dilemma.
Review this weekâ€™s Learning Resources, focusing on the information in the media presentation about the relationship between the law and ethics.
Consider the ethical responsibility of nurses in ensuring patient autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance, and justice.
Read the following scenario:
Lena is a community health care nurse who works exclusively with HIV-positive and AIDS patients. As a part of her job, she evaluates new cases and reviews confidential information about these patients. In the course of one of these reviews, Lena learns that her sisterâ€™s boyfriend has tested HIV positive. Lena would like to protect her sister from harm and begins to consider how her sister can find out about her boyfriendâ€™s health status.
Consult at least two resources to help you establish Lenaâ€™s legal and ethical position. These resources might include your stateâ€™s Nurse Practice Act, the ANAâ€™s Code of Ethics, ANAâ€™s nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, and internal or external standards of care.
Consider what action you would take if you were Lena and why.
Determine whether the law and the ANAâ€™s standards support or conflict with that action.
Write a description of the actions you would take in this situation, and why. Justify these actions by referencing appropriate laws, ethical standards, and professional guidelines.